Invented in 1933, plexiglass is an acrylic-based material that is today used in various sorts of home improvement and décor applications – as an alternative to glass.
The advantages of plexiglass are considerable as it is clear, lightweight, and quite durable under normal conditions.
Unfortunately, plexiglass is easy to scratch and gets stains on even when being cleaned, and is vulnerable to certain types of chemicals which are sometimes found in cleaning products including acetone.
Especially if you have repainted your house and some of the paint has accidentally stained your plexiglass at home, you need to know the right steps to cleaning without getting it damaged.
Let’s look at some of the best ways and products for plexiglass cleaning.
While going through the different ways, I will also try to answer the question we have in mind…about cleaning plexiglass with acetone!
What are the Ways to Clean Plexiglass at Home?
Understanding how to clean plexiglass the right way will leave behind a clean, clear surface that is not scratched and is free from all kinds of stains or paints.
What follows are 3 different ways you can clean plexiglass properly depending on how dirty or damaged it may be.
Method 1: Dusting
If the plexiglass is dusty, you can simply blow the particles away with your breath.
If the plexiglass itself has a larger surface than your lung capacity, you can always use a hairdryer on its cool setting.
Keep in mind that heat can damage the plexiglass.
You will need to lift up the plexiglass and aim the dryer at a 45-degree angle while running it from side to side.
- Run the dryer until you remove all the dust particles you can
- Check to see if there are any large particles left
- Do not use a microfiber cloth, the particles it traps can scratch the plexiglass
- Instead, use a microfiber duster made of dry suede to gently remove the particles. Glass cloths will work as well.
If you dust regularly, this will remove most of the particles and keep the plexiglass looking sharp and clean.
However, if it needs more work, you can do the following;
Method 2: Washing
Mix one teaspoon of dish soap per one quart of water.
You can put the mixture into a spray bottle or simply pour it over the plexiglass.
You’ll want to do this outside or in a large sink depending on the size of the plexiglass itself.
Spray the solution or run the mixture at a 45-degree angle over the plexiglass and let it run down to the bottom.
By running the mixture, you will remove most of the small particles that are stuck to the plexiglass.
Keep in mind that using solutions other than dish soap and water or products that are specifically made to clean plexiglass may damage the surface.
Products like alcohol and acetone can be harsh for plexiglass cleaning.
Hence it’s recommended not to use them.
Common glass cleaning products such as Windex contain alcohol as well, so do not use them on your plexiglass.
Instead, you can choose specific plexiglass cleaners such as Novus or Brillianize.
Although dish soap and water also work nicely in many cases.
Method 3: Wiping
Once you have cleaned the surface with a blow dryer and washed it in dish soap and water, you can now use a microfiber cloth to wipe it dry.
Although you should not use such cloth before the plexiglass is washed, now that it is free of dust particles it can be used safely.
Do not use tablecloths or paper towels as they contain elements that scratch the surface.
In addition to a microfiber cloth, you may use one of the following cloths to clean the plexiglass;
- Cotton flannel
- Jersey cloth
- Terry cloth
Or any cloth that does not have any abrasive materials.
Wipe the wet surface using the microfiber cloth and focus on the spots that are still dirty.
This is where the dirt and grime may be built up, so be careful when wiping on the surface.
You can continue to spray the dish soap and water solution or use a cleaner that is specific to plexiglass (like here at Amazon) while using the microfiber cloth.
Do not use too much pressure, but instead wet the surface and wipe until the dirt and grime are fully removed.
Removing the Paint on Plexiglass?
Since plexiglass is a kind of thermoplastic that looks much like real glass, you should be cautious enough while removing the paint on it.
If not, you can easily scratch the surface making it damaged forever.
To start with getting paint off of plexiglass it’s essential to know that you should only be using a non-abrasive cleaning method.
Things you will need:
- Soap water
- Piece of sponge
- Cotton cloth or paper towel
The steps are as follows:
Take a clean rag and dip it into a small amount of kerosene
Gently rub the moistened rag onto the stained paint area until you see the paint coming off
Now take a small bowl filled with a cup of warm water – add 1 tbsp of gentle soap into it
Take a piece of sponge and dip it into this soapy water.
Make it moistened by squeezing out the excess soap water
Rub gently this moistened piece of sponge on the plexiglass to remove the kerosene
At last, rinse the area softly with clean water and make the surface dry using a soft clean cotton cloth or a paper towel
Drying the Plexiglass after Cleaning
Once you have removed all the dirt, grime, paint, and other particles, you are ready to dry the plexiglass.
You should not let it air dry as the water spots will remain.
Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove all the water, so that the surface is fully dry.
Again, do not rub or press too hard into the plexiglass.
Cleaning the Really Dirty or Scratched Plexiglass
Removing elements such as stickers, paper, adhesive glue, etc. can be tricky from plexiglass.
You may get the surface damaged if you literally put too much energy into cleaning them off.
The good thing is, that it is still possible to repair scratched and dirty surfaces depending on the amount of damage that is present.
Here are a few things that can work for you…
For dirty surfaces that normal cleaners or the dish soap and water solution cannot penetrate, you can start by using a razor blade or specialized scraping tool to remove the dirt and grime.
Angle the blade at about 10-degrees and do not press into the plexiglass itself.
The goal is to slide the blade under the dirt and grim to pull it away from the surface.
A razor blade is especially useful on uneven or jagged surfaces as it can remove the grime or dirt effectively.
It’s helpful to wear gloves to prevent cuts or injuries when using a very sharp blade.
Once you have removed all the grime using the blade, the next step is to use 220 or 320 grit sandpaper to get rid of any deep scratches or markings.
You can do this by hand or use a sander. Either way, do not apply any force to the surface.
Just let the sander do its work and it will keep the heat to a minimum.
Start with the 220 or 320 grit sandpaper for deep scratches and move to 600 or 800-grit to make the surface even more smooth.
Remember to wear a dust mask when you are sanding.
Once you have completed the sanding process, now you are ready to buff the plexiglass.
You can use a stationary polishing wheel or choose a buffing pad attached to a Dremel tool, your choice.
Buffing will bring back the luster and shine without damaging the surface.
However, if you want to avoid a heat build-up, use a strip of bleached muslin with bias straps of 8 up to 14 inches.
This will keep the wheel itself from becoming too hot in the buffing process.
Make sure the plexiglass is locked down tight so that it stays in place when you are buffing.
Plus, if you want a glossy finish, use a medium cutting compound.
For more luster, a fast-cutting compound is a great solution.
When taking each step, be sure to look over the plexiglass and note any areas that need addressing.
For new plexiglass, you can help protect the surface by covering it with a cloth that does not contain any abrasive elements.
If that is not possible, regular dusting using a hairdryer will keep the dust to a minimum.
The Bottom Line
Plexiglass (also called acrylic or acrylic glass) for windows and various other décor items is getting popular due to its lightweight, transparent and shatter-resistant properties.
Available in various trade names like Acrylite, Astariglas, Crylux, Lucite, Perclax, Perspex, and others, it serves as a great alternative to glass.
Cleaning and removing the paint from these thermoplastic sheets can however be tricky.
Use the right products, and follow the above guidelines with patience.
And I am sure you can get your Plexiglass in tip-top condition without any scratching.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.